Our Lady of Prompt Succor, New Orleans, Andrew Jackson, Ursuline

Copyright 2018, Marge Fenelon

The French Ursulines came to New Orleans in 1727 and established a school for girls. It’s the oldest currently-operating girls’ school in what is now the United States. In 1803, a crisis caused a group of the nuns to flee to Cuba. One of the remaining nuns, Mother St. Andre Madier, appealed to her cousin, Mother St. Michel Gensoul – also an Ursuline – for help. Mother St. Michel had been forced to leave her own monastery at Pont-Saint-Esprit during the reign of terror. And yet, she was the  instrument for the devotion to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, or Our Lady of Quick Help.

Mother St. Michel was a remarkable woman with great talent, interior piety, and firm resolve. While in exile, she opened a boarding school for girls in Montpellier and was valued by the bishop there. Upon receiving her cousin’s request for help, Mother St. Michel petitioned Bishop Fournier for permission to travel to New Orleans, but he refused. To make things harder, he told Mother St. Michel that only the Pope could grant such a request. However, the Pope at that time was a prisoner of the Emperor Napoleon!
Still, that did not subdue the brave nun’s resolve. She received a divine inspiration one day while praying before a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, She said, “O most holy Virgin Mary, if you obtain a prompt and favorable answer to my letter, I promise to have you honored in New Orleans under the title of Our Lady of Prompt Succor.”
This promise must have pleased Mary very much, because she in turn granted two favors: The letter she had sent to the Pope on March 19, 1809 received an answer from Raome dated April 28, 1809. In the letter, the Holy Father praised Mother St. Michel’s generosity and faith and approved her departure for New Orleans. In gratitude, Mother St. Michel comissioned a statue under the title Our Lady of Prompt Succor and the surprised Bishop Fournier asked to bless it once it was completed. Devotion to Notre Dame de Prompt Secourse spread quickly and in 1810, the statue Mother St. Michel had brought from France was enshrined in the Ursuline Convent Chapel in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
When the Battle of New Orleans raged in 1815, the Ursulines prayed fervently to Our Lady of Prompt Succor for protection. Against impossible odds, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson led a small, poorly-equipped army against the powerful British force of 8,000 and gained victory. The Ursulines credited Our Lady of Prompt Succor for the British defeat. Even Andrew Jackson admitted that there had to have been some kind of divine intervention in achieving victory and wrote a letter to the Ursulines to this effect.
New Orleans, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, Marian Pilgrimage

National Votive Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Copyright 2018, Marge Fenlon

In 1895, the statue – now gilded in gold – was crowned by Decree of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII and in 1928 the Holy See approved and confirmed the naming of Our Lady of Prompt Succor as the Principal Patronness of the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana.
Marian Pilgrimage, Ursuline, New Orleans

Ursuline Mausoleum, where all of the Ursuline nuns who have ever served in the United States are buried.

Through the centuries, Our Lady of Prompt Succor has continued her work, bringing quick help to those who seek her aid. Visitors from all over the world have come to the shrine, and it’s common to see the faithful kneeling or resting in the pews as they pour out their hearts to her. Given this, it’s no surprise to hear sniffling and quiet sobs of those in distress.
Like the courageous woman who brought her there, Our Lady of Prompt Succor is a woman of resolve who came for a purpose and remains to carry it out – granting quick help to all who turn to her.
I’ll be writing more about this amazing place of grace and the miracles that have taken place there in future posts. Stay tuned!

2 Comments

Evelyn Cordero · April 14, 2019 at 8:23 am

Please prayer for my son Nicholas who was sexual abuse by a family member at the age of 7 yrs he was sentence The first time for viewing Child Prography for three years in prison I prayer so much for my son Nicholas I thought he was free from those thought That he was battling now is 32 setting in prison for tempting to meet up with a 14 years boy Which he was speaking through a computer site for gay men it was a set up by state police and was arrest on the spot on oct 2017 a few weeks after his birthday. He is being held in Albin, PA . And Sentence for a very long period. Please pray for my son For his conversion and early release for this I pray for my mother of prompt succor and in the name of Jesus her son . With regards Evelyn the mother of my son Nicholas I also have a son in the Navy who a chief in the Navy station in Japan he is 40 years old and a daughter Emily who is 20 years old studying Biology In Montclair State University

    Marge Fenelon · April 23, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    Evelyn, be assured of my prayers for you and your son. May our Lord bless you and our Mother Mary protect you, Marge

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